Fairground workers convicted following child death


Two fairground workers have today (9 May) been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a seven-year-old girl died when the bouncy castle she was playing on blew away in high winds.

William Thurston, 29, and Shelby Thurston, 26, denied responsibility for the death of Summer Grant, who suffered fatal injuries while at a funfair in Essex on 26 March 2016.

However, a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court today convicted the pair of gross negligence manslaughter following a three-week trial.

The court heard that Summer was playing on a bouncy castle at the fairground when it was swept away from its moorings, 300 metres down a hill.  

Summer was taken to hospital but died from her injuries.

The defendants, who are married couple from Cambridgeshire, worked for Thurston’s Funfairs, a family-run business that operates funfairs across the country.

The court heard how on the day of the incident the wind speeds and gusts had been increasing throughout the day, with the highest gusts in the area of 35-40mph occurring late afternoon. But the couple continued to operate the bouncy castle and did not ensure that it was safely secured to the ground.

The pair were also found guilty of failing to discharge their health and safety duties.

They will be sentenced in due course.

Nicola Rutter from the CPS said: “William and Shelby Thurston failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was adequately anchored to the ground and failed to monitor the weather conditions to ensure that it was safe to have it in use.

“They denied their actions were negligent but the CPS and the police built a strong case, together with assistance from the Health and Safety Executive, and demonstrated to the jury that the Thurstons had breached their duty of care to Summer.”

“Our thoughts are with Summer’s family and friends.”

Notes to editors

  • Nicola Rutter is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS East of England Complex Casework Unit
  • The prosecution followed an investigation by Essex Police and the Health and Safety Executive

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